How to Clean Dishwasher Filter (In 7 Steps)

Appliance Express
September 7, 2023
Dishwasher Repair

Do you know that your dishwasher has a filter system that needs cleaning from time to time? Most people don’t even realize this, but a dirty filter can lead to a whole host of problems, from leaving your dishes dirty even after a clean cycle to strange, musty smells that emanate from the washing machine.

It’s also essential to clean it regularly if you want your dishwasher to last for years to come. So, today, we’ll be discussing how to clean your dishwasher filter in 7 easy steps.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

For this task, you will need:

  • Dishwashing gloves
  • A soft brush (you can use your dish brush or an old toothbrush also works great)
  • Dish soap
  • And a towel

Step 2: Locate the Filter

The filter is often located at the bottom of the dishwasher tub. Depending on the model, it may be a cylindrical or flat shape. Take out the bottom rack of the dishwasher to access the filter. To do this, you will need to flip open the slide locks at the end of the rails and pull the rack out fully. From there, you can set it aside on a towel.

You may also need to move the spray arms to fully access the filter. You can rotate them out of the way. But, if your filter is particularly large, you may need to remove the spray arms as well. Depending on your model, they will either screw off from the base or snap off. Be sure to check your manual to find out which type of spray arm your dishwasher has.

You should now be able to see the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher.

Step 3: Remove the Filter

Before you can start cleaning the filter, it needs to be taken out of the dishwasher. Most cylindrical filters are removable by twisting them counterclockwise. Flat filters should pop out with a little pull.

Once removed, you may notice visible gunk, food particles, and other debris among the filter mesh.

You may also notice debris in the drain itself. We will clear that in the next step.

Step 4: Soak the Filter

Remove any visible, easily removed bits of food debris. We will use warm water to help soak off the caked-on residue.

Fill your sink or basin with warm, but not hot, water and mild dishwashing soap. Soak the filter in the solution for at least 15-20 minutes. This will help dissolve any stubborn dirt and grease buildup that has accumulated over time.

If your filter is covered in hard-to-remove residues, like cheese, egg, tomato sauce, or pie fillings, you can throw a teaspoon of salt into the soapy water. The salt can help draw out moisture and oils from the stains, making them easier to remove. The salt also acts as a natural abrasive, giving an extra layer of scrubbing power for the next step.

While the filter is soaking, you can clear out the dishwasher drain. First, remove any big chunks of food. Now, you can pour a mix of baking soda and vinegar, with a ratio of twice as much vinegar to baking soda. This mixture will help break down stains, dissolve clogs, and be rinsed out of the dishwasher on the next cycle.

Step 5: Scrub the Filter

Begin the cleaning process by submerging the filter in warm, soapy water. The warmth of the water helps to soften any hardened residue, while the soap works to break down grease and food particles. While the filter is submerged, start scrubbing it gently with your selected brush. Be careful to use only light pressure, as vigorous scrubbing could potentially damage the filter’s mesh.

Ensure that you clean both sides of the filter mesh thoroughly. The mesh is often the part of the filter that traps the most debris, so giving it a really good clean is crucial. Pay particular attention to any areas where you notice accumulated grime or discoloration.

Don’t forget about any additional parts of the filter system, such as the filter housing or frame. Although these parts might not come into direct contact with food particles as much as the mesh does, they can still harbor dirt and bacteria. Scrub these areas just as diligently as the rest of the filter.

Step 6: Rinse and Dry the Filter

After thoroughly scrubbing the filter, the next step is to rinse it. It’s essential to use warm water for this process. Warm water not only helps in removing any leftover soap suds but also aids in dislodging any stubborn grime or residue that might still be clinging to the filter.

Rinse the filter under a steady stream of warm water, ensuring that the water reaches all areas, including the nooks and crannies. Pay special attention to the mesh and any crevices where soap and debris might hide. Continue rinsing until all the soap suds have been washed away and the water running off the filter is clear. This indicates that the filter is free from any residual soap and grime.

Once the rinsing process is complete, gently shake the filter to remove any excess water trapped in it.

Next, you need to let the filter dry completely before reattaching it to the dishwasher. Find a well-ventilated area with plenty of air movement to speed up the drying process.

Make sure that the filter is thoroughly dry before reinstalling it.

A damp filter can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, which could lead to unpleasant odors or even affect the performance of your dishwasher.

Step 7: Reassemble the Filter and Test Your Dishwasher

Once the filter is clean and dry, reassemble it in its original position and ensure it is securely in place. Reattach the bottom rack, plug the dishwasher back into the socket, and turn on the power supply. Run a quick dishwasher cycle to test if everything is working smoothly and to clear out the drain of the baking soda and vinegar mixture.

Cleaning a dishwasher filter may seem daunting at first, but as you can see, it’s a straightforward process that anyone can do at home.

Cleaning your dishwasher filter once a month will ensure that your machine is running smoothly, your dishes are clean, and your kitchen is free from smelly odors.

Following these 7 easy steps will not only improve your dishwasher’s performance but also extend its lifespan for many years to come.


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